Friday, July 02, 2010

Charity does begin at home

That charity begins at home is perhaps the most compassionate statements one would hear universally! Nothing can outshine it in intent, good will and most importantly in being humane and cognizant of another person’s condition and the effort to constantly work towards remedial measures which are so much of a dire need in today’s circumstances.

Speaking only for India, I've made a compilation of the following facts and figures which are absolute shockers!

The World Bank estimates that 456 million Indians (41.6 % of the total Indian population) now live under the global poverty line of $1.25 per day. This means that a third of the global poor now reside in India.

A 2007 report by the state-run National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector (NCEUS) found that 77% of Indians, or 836 million people, lived on less than 20 rupees per day, with most working in "informal labour sector with no job or social security, living in abject poverty." However, a new report from the UN disputes this, finding that the number of people living on $1.25 a day is expected to go down from 435 million or 51.3 percent in 1990 to 295 million or 23.6 percent by 2015 and 268 million or 20.3 percent by 2020.

India is home to the world’s largest population of street children, estimated at 57 million. The Republic of India is the seventh largest and second most populous country in the world. With acceleration in economic growth, India has become one of the fastest growing developing countries. This has created a rift between poor and rich; 22 percent of the population lives below the income poverty line. Owing to unemployment, increasing rural-urban migration, attraction of city life and a lack of political will, India now has one of the largest number of child laborers in the world.

Street children are subject to malnutrition, hunger, health problems, substance abuse, theft, commercial sexual exploitation of children, harassment by the city police and railway authorities, as well as physical and sexual abuse, although the Government of India has taken some corrective measures and declared child labor illegal.

So, when on the morning of 30th June, Elizabeth Sholtys, Co-founder and Chief Executive of an non-profit organization called the Ashraya Initiative for Children (AIC), wrote me an email introducing herself and her organization and what they do, along with a request to show support for their efforts, I decided to feature them on my blog, knowing fully well that such a noble cause requires marathon effort, courage, persistence and above all a sense of dedication that cannot for once be compromised.

The Ashraya Initiative for Children (AIC) is dedicated to improving the lives and shaping the futures of vulnerable children in Pune, India by advancing educational opportunities, nurturing holistic development and building healthy, empowered communities.

AIC is in the running for $250,000 through the Chase Community Giving contest via Facebook. AIC is currently #12 in the list of more than 500,000 organizations, and is trying to secure more votes to move up to be within the top 5. Each organization within the top 200 will receive $20,000, but if AIC can make it to the top 5, they will receive $100,000 when the contest ends on July 12th. Only American organizations are eligible to compete, so there are very few other organizations that work in India participating in the contest (AIC is the only organization working in India that has been placed in the top 40 list).

Quoting Elizabeth Sholtys herself –

Even $20,000 goes a long way for AIC - for example, it pays for ALL of the school-related expenses for ALL 200 street kids and slum children in our Education Outreach Program. This includes school tuition fees for both public and private schools, exam fees, uniforms, underwear, shoes, sweaters, hair ribbons, lunch boxes, textbooks, notebooks, pens, pencils, art supplies, backpacks, external tutoring fees for our oldest students who attend a year-long prep course to help get them ready for the 10th standard board exams, and many other things.

You can help make a huge difference in the lives of 200 extremely needy children, just by voting. And in honor of our 5 year anniversary, please spread the word to at least 5 (or more!) friends and family members and convince them to support our cause.

Thank you so much!”

Folks, take a few moments to visit the following link and caste a vote to ensure that this effort is sustained.

AIC’s campaign on Chase Community Giving contest on Facebook


Statistical facts and figures, as per reports and publications, given hereunder.

Poverty in India 
Street children in India 
India: Urban Poverty Report 2009 

Ashraya Initiative for Children (AIC) on Facebook and Twitter

The official AIC video

CBC documentaries on AIC
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3 

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